Despite experiencing hatred and racism in her youth, Dr. Olivia Hooker has dedicated her life to serving the needs of her community and her nation, living by her life philosophy, “it’s not about you or me; it’s about what we can give to this world.” Now, at the age of 101, Hooker remains an important member of the long blue line and an example of the Coast Guard’s core values of honor, respect and devotion to duty.
Of the thousands of women who have served with honor in the United States Coast Guard, one stands out for her bravery and devotion to duty: Florence Smith Finch.
Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft dedicated a training center within Coast Guard Headquarters in honor of Dr. Olivia Hooker, the first African-American woman in the Coast Guard.
On Nov. 23, 1942, legislation approved the implementation of the United States Coast Guard Women’s Reserve. The women who joined were more commonly known as SPARs – an acronym derived from the Coast Guard’s motto, ‘Semper Paratus, Always Ready’ – and formed the foundation for women serving today. On March 9, 1945, Olivia Hooker headed to boot camp. While women had been heading enlisting for months by then, one thing was unique about Hooker – she was one of only five African American females to first enlist in the SPAR program.
On Nov. 23, 1942, legislation approved the implementation of the United States Coast Guard Women’s Reserve; the program known as SPAR – the acronym derived from the translations of the Coast Guard’s motto, ‘Semper Paratus, Always Ready’ – became the foundation for women in the Coast Guard today.
On this day in 1942, legislation approved the Coast Guard Women’s Reserve to help fill jobs and free men to serve during the war effort. Women from all over the country took the oath, attended training, wore the uniform and served in shoreside positions throughout the nation. They were known as the SPARs – Semper Paratus, Always Ready! On Nov. 9, former SPAR and Coast Guard veteran Lt. j.g. Doritha Douglas was interviewed about her decision to join the SPARs and the experiences she had. Douglas is one of the oldest surviving members of the SPARs.
The following is an excerpt from the White Plains Patch reprinted with permission. Westchester County recently presented Dr. Olivia Hooker, a World War II Coast Guard SPAR and one of the first African American women to enlist in the service, […]
With an increasing number of eyes on the Arctic, Coast Guardsmen spent 2011 testing capabilities, building partnerships and rapport with Native Alaskans and keeping a vigilant watch above the Arctic Circle in some of the most challenging marine operation environments on the planet.
UPDATE: The spelling of Vice Adm. Jody Breckenridge’s name was corrected in paragraph eight. Written by Chief Petty Officer Sarah Foster, 11th Coast Guard District. At the Oakland Zoo, where Elfie Larkin volunteered as a docent for more than 32 […]
On this important date for women in the military – the anniversary of the SPARs – the Coast Guard celebrates all of these trailblazing women by highlighting the noteworthy efforts of Capt. Eleanor C. L’Ecuyer. Written by Petty Officer 1st […]